El Camino - The Black Keys

Universal acclaim - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 34 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37
  1. May 31, 2012
    It's never just meat and potatoes. It's more like eating bone marrow in a fashionable restaurant - earthy, carnivorous but still beautifully designed and knowingly conceptualized. [Jan 2012, p.88]
  2. 100
    Sometimes, a CD scratches an itch you didn't even know you had, and El Camino is that record.
  3. Dec 1, 2011
    They sound like a band who think they've made the year's best rock'n'roll album, probably because that's exactly what they've done.
  4. 100
    There's an urgency and drive about these tracks that's simply exhilarating.
  5. 91
    They've teamed up with longtime producer Danger Mouse to do what they do best.
  6. Dec 7, 2011
    The brilliance of El Camino lies in the fact that it is still perfectly modern, a step in the direction of legitimizing the use of vocal effects, multi-tracking and ultimately catchy choruses.
  7. Dec 5, 2011
    More than any other Black Keys album, El Camino is an outright party, playing like a collection of 11 lost 45 singles, each one having a bigger beat or dirtier hook than the previous side.
  8. Nov 29, 2011
    The trick to El Camino is how steady it runs; whereas past left turns have been distractions, this is what happens when the pedal is floored.
  9. Dec 5, 2011
    El Camino is yet another ear-pleasing installment in the catalog of a consistently impressive band.
  10. Jan 3, 2012
    This is a rip-roaring, multi-faceted rock fest. [17 Dec 2011, p.52]
  11. Dec 21, 2011
    This is unvarnished rock, primal and exhilarating, songs groaning with their abundance of great hooks, suggesting that El Camino may well prove to be the pair's definitive records. [Jan. 2012 p. 116]
  12. Dec 12, 2011
    El Camino feels like the dawn of greatness. [Jan 2012, p.76]
  13. Dec 12, 2011
    El Camino offers, like they say in Spinal Tap, something none more black, lean mean T-Rex-ish blues party pop (because the melodies are audaciously and apologetically catchy) that spirals nearly out of control yet is reigned in (really?!?) by producer Danger Mouse at his most spare and frame making.
  14. 80
    El Camino distills its predecessor's high-octane fumes and high-profile influences into very nearly the Platonic ideal of rock and roll.
  15. Dec 6, 2011
    El Camino is the Keys' grandest pop gesture yet, augmenting dark-hearted fuzz blasts with sleekly sexy choruses and Seventies-glam flair.
  16. 80
    It's meat-and-potatoes blues-rock topped with something sweeter, and it's the most consistent thing these guys have ever cooked up.
  17. Too late for those album of the year polls?
  18. Dec 5, 2011
    The album hurtles forward with all the momentum and subtlety of a cannonball, and it's best either to get on board or just to get the hell out of the way.
  19. Dec 5, 2011
    There isn't a bad song in the bunch, nor a moment to relax until you've ingested El Camino in full.
  20. Dec 2, 2011
    Maybe their tightest, most replayable album yet.
  21. 80
    Each track has a timeless quality, as suited to a Seventies mid-west saloon as a students' indie disco.
  22. Nov 30, 2011
    On El Camino, mariachi, C&W, gospel, psych rock, blues and soul all mash together into a warm and occasionally dazzling torrent; their appeal is less in fresh sounds as fresh composites of old ones, wrapped around classically dusty tales of errant womenfolk and addiction to love.
  23. Nov 29, 2011
    Gone are the prior albums' "tasteful" (i.e., boring) slow-burners; El Camino's 38 minutes are pure thrust.
  24. Nov 29, 2011
    Produced by man of the moment, Danger Mouse, the sound remains unmistakably Black Keys but adds further dimensions to what is already a winning mix.
  25. Dec 12, 2011
    The bulk of El Camino keeps that approach fresh by twisting their rock sound into a pop sensibility that may feel nostalgic, but here--in this concentrated, potent dose--reveals itself to be just as eager to move forward as it is to revel in the past.
  26. Dec 8, 2011
    "El Camino" is all about instant gratification: guitar riffs, handclaps, slinky keyboard textures, walloping beats, wordless sing-along vocals, and even more guitar riffs. It sounds like it was written with the express purpose of rocking the arenas that the Black Keys will be headlining next year.
  27. Dec 6, 2011
    El Camino is so relentlessly crowd-pleasing that it feels a bit inconsequential; there's no room for the sad, sludgy ballads that used to anchor Black Keys albums in the band's new, sugar-heavy music.
  28. As easy as it is to get hung up on how similar El Camino sounds compared to Brothers and even parts of Attack & Release, there are instances which set this effort apart from their past work.
  29. Dec 2, 2011
    The riffs are glam-nasty, the lyrics sublimely knuckleheaded, the basslines nimble and bombastic, the mood frivolous and fun and unabashedly corny.
  30. 70
    All in all, El Camino sticks to a tried and true template of brazen impulsivity that's been explored by generations of rock bands.
  31. For 37 rollicking minutes, they give it the full gun, meeting the challenge of being the biggest garage rock band in the world head-on.
  32. Dec 5, 2011
    Despite their faults, The Black Keys do have something to offer the world in terms of reliable, entertaining garage rock. Just don't expect innovation.
  33. Nov 29, 2011
    Down and dirty, it grooves by on soulful power chords and Carney's relentless hammering of his kit.
  34. Jan 17, 2012
    With El Camino, the Black Keys have essentially twenty minutes of worthwhile music, at least as far as partying is concerned.
  35. Nov 29, 2011
    In revving so hard, though, the Black Keys have perhaps left behind in the dust the subtleties that made Brothers such an intriguing ride.
  36. Dec 2, 2011
    The Black Keys have created a record that they believe is how a rock'n'roll record should sound, but without soul or sex or genuine sweet emotion.
  37. Jan 3, 2012
    El Camino might be the weakest Black Keys album since 2006's Magic Potion, but the band certainly earned this celebratory joy ride.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 209 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 50 out of 52
  2. Negative: 0 out of 52
  1. Dec 6, 2011
    Catchy and captivating; this is the best rock album of 2011 by far. The Black Keys have stepped into the space left by The White Stripes, and established their role as the best blues/rock band out there at the moment. Full Review »
  2. Dec 7, 2011
    This is a great album, but I think the tens are a bit much. The album goes by quickly, everything sounds generally great, the lyrics are okay (nothing thought compelling), and the vocals are TBK standard. Great album, just not a ten. Sadly (looking down the road), I think TBK's are riding a wave of only somewhat justified hype in a misleading sea of musical garbage. Full Review »
  3. Dec 7, 2011
    Lots of good songs on here, they all kick ass in so many ways. This album proves that there is still good rock and roll out there. Thank you Black Keys for making awesome music, top 5 album of the year. Full Review »